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Democrat seeks fourth full term from 1st Congressional District, which covers four counties in northwest Oregon and part of Multnomah County; two other Democrats, three Republicans also in race.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PETER WONG - U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., speaks at the start of her bid for a fourth full term from the 1st District of northwest Oregon. The event was Friday, March 2, at Portland Community College Rock Creek campus. Two little-known Democrats have filed, but no Republicans, for the May 15 primary. Filing deadline is March 6.U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici says she wants to continue to be a voice for Oregonians who need help if she is elected to a fourth full term from the 1st District.

Bonamici is a Democrat from Beaverton who has represented northwest Oregon in the U.S. House since January 2012. She opened her re-election campaign Friday, March 2, at a gathering at Portland Community College Rock Creek.

Bonamici acknowledged that Congress an as institution gets low marks. The latest USA Today/Suffolk University survey puts public approval at 15 percent and disapproval at 75 percent, the average of several other polls.

"Sometimes people say: Why do I want to run for Congress? Isn't it completely dysfunctional? Nobody likes members of Congress," Bonamici said.

"But I have to say: Look at what's at stake. Look at what is at risk. The day after the (2016) election, I said a lot of people are counting on me to be their voice. I want to continue that work."

According to the same USA Today poll, participants favored a generic Democrat over a Republican in the Nov. 6 congressional election, 47 percent to 32 percent — and by 60 percent to 29 percent, they said the country was headed in the wrong direction.

"When we see students out there raising their voices about making a change, we know there is hope out there for the future," Bonamici said of those speaking up after a Feb. 14 mass shooting left 17 dead at a Florida high school.

"It is very possible, and I like to think likely, that Democrats will be in the majority" after the 2018 elections.

Bonamici serves on two House committees — Education and the Workforce, where she has made a mark on most of the major legislation that has moved through that panel, and Science, Space and Technology, where she said she has had to push back against Republican skeptical of science and climate change.

With the filing deadline near for the May 15 Democratic primary, Bonamici is opposed for renomination by two first-time candidates. They are Ricky Barajas of Portland, manager of a dental practice, and Michael Stansfield of Tualatin, a quality assurance engineer and an author.

As of the deadline Tuesday, two Republicans had filed

— George Griffith and Preston Miller — and John Verbeek was awaiting approval.

Although its boundaries have changed over time, a Republican held the seat most recently in 1974.

Background

Bonamici was elected in January 2012 to the seat vacated by the resignation of Democrat David Wu. She was re-elected in 2016 with a majority of 59.6 percent in a three-candidate race.

The district covers four counties — Washington, Clatsop, Columbia and Yamhill — and most of Multnomah County west of the Willamette River.

Of its more than 500,000 registered voters as of January, 37.5 percent were Democrats, and voters not affiliated with any party outnumbered Republicans, 31.6 percent to 24.6 percent.

Bonamici, 63, began her career as a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. But her public involvement started as a parent and school advocate in Beaverton before she was elected to the Oregon House in 2006 and moved to the Oregon Senate in 2008.

Stacy Chamberlain, executive director of Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said she was impressed that Bonamici took the time to listen to a worker at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville describe how his life changed radically after an on-the-job injury.

"She knows that policy is more than just the research and the numbers," Chamberlain said. "She knows that policies have real impacts on everyday people."

A similar testimonial was offered by Lacey Beaty, then an Army veteran and a "random Beaverton resident" who accompanied her husband — then on active duty in a combat zone — to a veterans-only town hall Bonamici conducted four years ago.

"Since that moment, every time I meet her at an event, she not only remembered who I was, but also my name and why I had talked to her," said Beaty, who won a Beaverton City Council seat in 2014.

As manager of the school-based health center program for the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, Lacey said she appreciates Bonamici's strong advocacy for access to contraceptives and women's health services.

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